The Times/1906/Obituary/John Henry Bridges
A correspondent writes:—"I have seen no notice in The Times, and very few elsewhere, of the death of a man who some years ago was regarded by his friends as one of the remarkable men of his generation. This was John Henry Bridges, F.R.C.P., for over 20 years medical inspector to the Local Government Board, but better known as one of the ablest of the English Positivists. he was the son of a clergyman, the Rev. Charles Bridges, and was born in 1832. He went to school at Rugby under Tait, and then to Wadham College, Oxford, where among his contemporaries were two men who were destined to become his lifelong friends, and, with himself and their senior, Richard Congreve, to form the inner circle of the English followers of Auguste Comte. I refer to Frederic Harrison and Edward Spencer Beesly, of whom the former became Fellow of Wadham and a lawyer, and the latter a schoolmaster and subsequently professor of history in University College, London. Bridges obtained a Fellowship at Oriel, and adopted the profession of medicine, but after a few years of practice he accepted the appointment mentioned. The four friends, however, were better known as men of letters, and especially as the translators of Comte's 'Positive Philosophy' and the constant advocates of his doctrines and creed. The section of the book translated by J. H. Bridges was the "General View," and ten years later (1875) he collaborated in the translation of the 'Positive Polity.' He also wrote from time to time pamphlets and essays on practical political questions, treated, of course, from the Comtist standpoint. There were marked by singular clearness of style and by an absence of both the trenchant bitterness of Professor Beely and the somewhat excessive fluency of Mr. Frederic Harrison. Finally, Bridges published in 1897-1900 the book on which he had been engaged for years—an edition of the 'Opus Major' of Roger Bacon. Unfortunately he had deferred it too long, for by that time his health had begun to fail, and he was unable to give sufficient care to the collation fo the test or to the editing. It did not, therefore, satisfy the scholars, and it is to be feared that some of the review of it wounded him severely. For some years past Mr. Bridges was more or less of an invalid, and seldom visited his old London haunts at the Athenæum or elsewhere. He was of a shy, retiring nature, but the few people who knew him well had the highest respect and regard both for his character and his abilities. He died at Tunbridge Wells on the 15th inst."